This is my son Ian two years ago. He was sixteen; finally old enough to get a part time job, old enough to drive, old enough to start making some serious decisions about his life. He was involved in student leadership and peer counseling at our church, as well as teaching 5th and 6th grade Sunday school. At school he was the wrestling team captain and played clarinet in the band. Academically he was an underachiever but some teachers loved him. He was the kind of student who wouldn't do homework and still score 100% on tests. He had a lovely girlfriend who lived 500 miles away. After a rather shaky beginning and a lot of worries we were finally starting to believe he was going to grow up just fine. Three months later he was a drug addict.
Raising children is like gambling. With your heart and soul as collateral. Everything... genetics, discipline, school, snack foods, friends... is a roll of the dice. It's easy to look backward and point to the reasons why this may have happened to Ian, but honestly it would be just as easy to look backward and find reasons for him to have turned out well.
Regardless, we now find ourselves with a son living away from home and fighting some mighty demons. When we don't hear from him in a week we worry, we speculate, my husband tends to get cynical and I get sad, sometimes we fight, most of the time we console each other and try to share the load. We stay strong because we have each other and because we have to.
My sister-in-law, Anne, responded to one of my posts about Ian and what she had to say is lovely, practical, and hopeful:
It's called "tough" love for a reason. If it were easy, it wouldn't need an extra adjective. All kids should have an extra adjective - like "exuberant" or "creative". Come to think of it, even adults need an extra adjective. The dictionary defines tough as "capable of great endurance; sturdy; hardy" You have to believe that you are tough - and so are all of your children.
I love the idea of extra adjectives for all of us. Today I will chose tenacious for my adjective. Tenacious means persistent in maintaining or adhering. It also means not easily pulled apart. I remain tenacious for Ian. I saw him today.. he looks better.. and it would be easy to be relieved, excited, or hopeful but I've been those before and it's too far to fall when he doesn't look so good. Instead I'll cling to the hope that he is getting better, adhere to my belief that he can get well, but I won't be pulled apart if things change.